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North Carolinian William McGirt still among leaders at his first Masters

William McGirt follows through on his approach shot on No. 18 in the second round of the Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday. McGirt shot a 1-over 73 and is 2 under for the tournament.
William McGirt follows through on his approach shot on No. 18 in the second round of the Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday. McGirt shot a 1-over 73 and is 2 under for the tournament. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

William McGirt is settling in to Augusta National for the weekend -- and officials might have to forcibly remove him from the property before all is said and done.

McGirt, the eastern North Carolina native, remained in contention at his first Masters on Friday by shooting a 1-over 73 on another windy day.

McGirt, 37, is 2 under for the tournament, leaving him two strokes behind the leaders and ensuring that he won’t be going home to Spartanburg early.

McGirt, who won the Memorial Tournament last year to earn the Masters berth, said he’d booked his rental home in Augusta for the whole week hoping he’d be around for the entirety.

“I was not leaving. And I may just stick around for the green jacket ceremony whether I’m a part of it or not,” McGirt said. “It’s been fun being down here. We’re just trying to soak it all in.”

McGirt and Australian Rod Pampling had the first tee time Friday, starting at 8 a.m. when temperatures were cool and fans had not yet filled in. McGirt began and ended his round with bogeys at 1 and 18, but in between he kept himself in the hunt with a bunch of pars and two birdies on a day when the morning winds were trickier than the opening round.

“The gusts are all over the place,” McGirt said. “(Thursday) they seemed to stay pretty constant with the general wind direction. Today, there’s no consistency, no rhyme nor reason at all.”

Playing as a twosome with no groups ahead of them, McGirt and Pampling blew through their round in a little more than four hours. McGirt said they would have been even faster had they not had to deal with the gusts ripping through the pine trees.

“Honestly, if the wind wasn’t blowing like it was, we probably could have played in three and a half hours,” McGirt said. “It’s just, you got to take some extra time. You can’t take any shot for granted out here. You just kind of do what you have to do.”

Not that McGirt was in any hurry.

McGirt, who was born in Lumberton and grew up in Fairmont, missed the cut in three of his previous four majors had made no secret of how much he’s enjoying his Augusta debut.

“Pretty cool to get to play the weekend in your first Masters,” he said, smiling. “To be in a position to be able to make a run on the weekend makes it even more special. Yeah, honestly, I couldn’t have written a script for (Thursday and Friday) much better.”

McGirt’s hoping he has a couple of good chapters left in him.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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